An Ode To Chick

Kurt —  September 21, 2009

Nate Jones just penned a tribute to the late, great Chick Hearn over at FanHouse that is a must read for Lakers fans because it brings back some great memories.

For a time my family didn’t have cable television, so I had to listen to the radio to catch Lakers home games. Trust me when I say there wasn’t much of a difference between watching the games on television with Chick Hearn calling them and hearing Chick call the game on Lakers radio. He was that good. In fact, Chick was such a prolific announcer that when the Lakers played national television games, I would mute the television and turn on the radio to hear Chick call the game. I know this was a common thing for most fans to do in Los Angeles.

I’d love to hear your Chick Hearn memories as well.

to An Ode To Chick

  1. I did the same thing. Both listening to the radio for home games and listening to Chick on the radio while watching the TV for nationally televised games. Yeah he was that good.


  2. What can I say? Chick was best there’s ever been. And there will never be another one like him. He is as big a factor there was in making me fall in love with the Lakers and the game of basketball in general. I still use his “Chickisms” every time I’m watching basketball and I say the classic “refrigerator” line with enthusiasm whenever it’s apparent the game is decided, regardless of what sport it is.

    As Los Angeles sports fans, we are truly lucky to have been graced with both Chick Hearn and Vin Scully, who in my opinion, are the best sportscasters to ever announce their respective sports.


  3. Anyone remember those halftime interviews with Chick that used to air during KCAL9 away games? During halftime, a pre-recorded (during shootaround) interview between Chick and either a Laker player or a marquee player from the opposing team would be on air to fill the gap between halves. I really liked those segments, especially since Chick would speak very candidly with the players and as a result, I would find out more about the player that I otherwise would never have known. In the era before internet and blogging and such, it was one of the few ways that fans could get to know more about the players as a person, rather than just another athlete. It felt like Chick had brought me closer to the team. It’s probably a big part of why I became such a big Laker fan from a young age.

    One of my all-time favorite memories of Chick was when he was being honored at halftime for broadcasting his 3,000th consecutive game. The Lakers were losing badly to the Magic going into the half. While he gave his thanks to the fans and the organization, he closed his speech by saying, “Let’s go, Lakers! You’re playing like dogs… If they play the third quarter like they played the first half, I’m going to buy them Alpo!”

    Of course, the Lakers would wake up and go on to win the game. I can’t help but think Chick had something to do with it. Classic.


  4. someone on our facebook page said it best – “Chick Hearn was ther mor than my pops!!!” – SO TRUE! SO TRUE!


  5. A little birdie told (tweeted) me that at Nov. 22nd’s home game this season, which is the annual Chick Hearn Night, the giveaway will be replicas of Chick’s retired microphone jersey.

    Chick’s postgame tucked me into bed and sung me to sleep through my childhood.

    3. As for the intimate halftime interviews, this one was my favorite. It’s Chick with Chris Mullin, as Mullin was rebounding in his career after battling alcoholism. Chick was so candid, yet so tactful and classy, I couldn’t help but root for Mullin after that. Plus, you get to hear Chick say “World Champion Lakers Basketball Network”, I’ll NEVER get tired of that.


  6. I saw him at LAX once when I was kid. I was too shy to approach him, but he did aim his big welcoming smile at me anyway …


  7. Going to games with my grandfather from when i was very young, it was our ritual at halftime to walk across the arena and say hello to Chick (I only went to 1-2 games a year, wasn’t stalking him…). He was always polite, warm, and funny– loved that a grandfather and little kid came over to say hello and talk lakers.

    It’s kind of cruel, but one of my favorite Chick memories was towards the very end of his career when he’d sometimes flashback to Showtime and would call Kobe ‘Magic’ and Shaq ‘Kareem’. It was as if I was able to enjoy the game and experience great memories from my childhood at the same time!

    Not Chick’s finest moment by a longshot, but lovable.

    Also loved hearing Chick mangle some gnarly eastern european names. ‘Slava Menavade– Menkaven– Mek–etc’



    1. Chick appreciated good basketball, even if it came at the expense of the Lakers, and that says a lot about his character.

    2. Here was Chick at the height of his powers, giving a concise, poetic description a moment after it unfolded.

    His style and cadence seemed to always precisely reflect events unfolding before him. He could accurately depict a game’s tempo, its variations in rhythm, its shifts in momentum, its importance, its magnitude.

    But Chick did more than that. Through him, listeners were able to glimpse the improvisational genius of the Doctor in flight, the indestructibility of our Captain, the impossible brilliance of Bird, the ruthless majesty of Michael, and the sublime in Magic, our champion, so human in bearing, so like a god in stature.

    My family could not afford Prime Ticket, but I concur with Nate Jones that it hardly mattered. Chick never failed to capture my imagination.


  9. Ha… I went t high school with Nate.. he always has been a big NBA fan and a really nice guy. Not a bad nba writer as well.


  10. I always loved Chick, right up till the end, but for those FB&G fans who only knew him at the end of his career, you really had to hear Chick in the 70s and 80s, when he was in his absolute prime. The man was a genius on the microphone and I can’t even begin to imagine how many basketball fans learned the game through his call, as I did.

    My favorite Chick memory has to be the 1980 playoffs. I was in 8th grade living with my family for a year in Mogadishu, Somalia, and we all woke up at 4 in the morning to hear Chick & Keith Erickson call the playoff games that season on the Armed Forces radio network, all the way to the title. That was a real thrill.

    Then friends of ours from LA sent us cassette tapes (!!) that they had recorded off the radio of all 6 Finals games, and I spent hours replaying Chick’s broadcasts on my little tape recorder and acting out every play with the Nerf hoop in my bedroom. I must have played every game a dozen games.

    I miss Chick!


  11. (a dozen TIMES)


  12. It just pains me to watch games knowing how great Chick was.

    No matter how much I see a Lakers game on TNT or ABC (especially) I just wish they would announce the game and not go off on way off tangents.

    My wife complains plenty when she watches games with me about that and I always agree and have to remind her it wasn’t always like this!

    The announcers these days need to remember very clearly that the players are the stars, they are the reason we are watching and listening to the game.

    No one knew this better than Chick.



  13. Chick is the only person I never met yet sincerely miss. It’s a void that just cannot be filled for Laker fans.


  14. My experience isn’t about listening to Chick calling the games, is more about NOT having him.

    Spanish commentators are awful, and watch the games at 3-4 am while listening to them its pretty hard. Sometimes I’d rather shut it down, stream it somewhere and listen any american radio station to follow it.

    I would kill to have your TV commentators, but I understand that, after tasting Chick, everything else looks like a Burger next to a kobe steak


  15. Getting in form for the season – I got Kobe’s injury from a couple of years ago – tore a piece of bone off the finger in my right pinky and severed the tendon. How Kobe played with it I don’t know. I had to have surgery. Well, there’s Vicodin.

    But, Chick … Bill Walton talked about growing up listening to Chick. Chick was like a member of the family.

    My favorite story? Spring 1970, the Lakers against the Suns in the playoffs. We were on a family vacation in Palm Springs. We listened to the game driving out there, but got to our hotel sometime in the second half. So my dad and I left my mom and sister in the room and drove around for about an hour and a half listening on the car radio. It was a warm beautiful night, we had the windows down. The radio reception kept going in and out and we were hanging on Chick’s every word.

    Gail Goodrich hit a layup at the end, leaning out into the court from under the backboard (Gail demonstrated this shot for us campers a couple of years later at the Goodrich-Baylor basketball camp at UCSB), and the Laker won. The Lakers came back from 3-1 down to win the series.

    My dad and I still talk about that evening. It was special to us both.


  16. Off topic but well worth the read: Via TrueHoop, an interview in LA Weekly with Gary Viti about the eating habits of players:


  17. I also used to bring a small radio with earphones to Laker games. The reception was aweful, but I just can’t watch them without Chick! He is that much a part of the Lakers for me. Not only was he candid, he always used to say what us Laker fans are thinking at certain moments of the game.

    For example, I remember watching Game 4 of the ’87 Finals against the Celtics on TV. Magic got the pass from Coop with 12 seconds left. He was just dribbling like he didn’t know how much time is left. I remember saying “you gotta go do something now!” Then chick goes “you gotta do something maj!.” Magic goes to the middle and throws up a beautiful baby hook over everybody. Swish!


  18. maybe you’ve seen this already but it cracked me…

    “I didn’t realize how far L.A.’s tentacles, or whatever you want to call them, extend, all the way to San Diego. I thought I was going to be getting some Golden State Warrior fans, because I didn’t know where I was at. Most of the fans are Lakers fans, so that’s great.
    “And I’m also here to say that next year I’ll be trying out for the San Diego Chargers, so I look forward to that. Hopefully I can play some baseball. Is there a baseball team here?”
    You’re wearing a Padres hat, he was told.
    “I know I’m wearing the hat. I just love the SD. The logo looks great. I didn’t realize there was a baseball team in San Diego.”


  19. Remember how Chick would often name someone on the air that he had met recently, saying something nice about them or their family?

    In the early 80’s a good friend of mine who was a journalism student and intern at the time arranged a quick meeting with Chick up in Chick’s Nest at the Forum before a game. He was a little smart ass at the time, but I figured he would play it straight when he came face to face with Chick.

    Any way, I started telling everyone to listen that night because I had prepared a little spiel and was SURE Chick was going to say something nice about me. I could just hear it… “met a fine young man today…”

    Well just as I was reaching for Chick’s hand that night, my friend butts in and says “Ted Appel, Reporter with UPI. Any comments about your impending retirement?”

    Chick pulled back like he’d been shot, gave a look to Ted that still makes me laugh, said “Get the *^$% out of here!” and turned his back on us!

    We still laugh at my friend’s pathetic attempt to get a “scoop” and I have never let him forget how he ruined my chance at Lakers immortality!


  20. What was the capacity of the Forum? Chick used to always announce it. “Sellout crowd, 16,505” or something like that.


  21. 21. Close – it was 17,505


  22. Ha, ha! I remember the Alpo bit, too!

    Honesty, was the Chickism that we Laker fans miss the most. None better than Chick Hearn in evaluating a teams abilities against the Lakers.

    Would love to hear him give his assessment of this year’s team.

    Miss you Chick!!!


  23. lil pau — another common Chick mix-up was calling Horry “Worthy.”

    And the early 90s teams that had Van Exel, Threatt and Peeler — all guards, all bald, all left-handed and all wearing single-digit numbers — used to just be a free for all because he couldn’t tell any of them apart. It was classic.

    And you know what? I’d take the older, less-adept Chick Hearn over any other announcer at any point in time. He was as much a part of the Lakers as any player ever, and I still get nostalgic whenever I hear his voice on the old highlight clips.

    I was so happy he was able to return for the last few games of the 2002 season and playoffs. Knowing that the last game he called ended with him referring (again) to the “World Champion Los Angeles Lakers” made it seem like all was right in the NBA world before he passed away.


  24. I still turn down the volume and tune in the radio for ABC/ESPN games because their commentators are so abysmal.

    Spiro is no Chick. There will never be another Chick, but Spiro does a good job calling the games.


  25. Chick was the best and the Lakers know that. They named a street after him and lets not forget that the sunday whites are a tribute to chick as well. Rest in Peace Chick


  26. Coop-A-Loop

    94×50 hunk of wood

    Call it with Braille

    Caught with his hand in the cookie Jar

    Bunny Hop in the Pea Patch

    Put him in the Popcorn Machine…and he’s covered in butter

    If he makes that I’m walking home.

    No harm no foul no blood no ambulance

    In the refrigerator, the lights are out, the eggs are cooling and jello’s jiggling

    That’s all I can remember now…any more?


  27. Oh…The Mustard’s off the Hot Dog


  28. Besides all his sayings and classic phrases, one thing I really loved about Chick was his ability to call out distances on shots attempted/made. This made listening and viewing a game so much better as you would always know where a player was and what type of shot he was attempting. It sounds like a little thing, but it made a difference for me.


  29. Chick had an amazing ability to describe what was happening all over the court, not just on the ball. It was like he could announce the game the way Magic could see it. Chick could see plays developing and almost call them before they happened. And no one could predict if the free throw would hit or miss like him.


  30. 25 – Still, I’ll take Spiro over Joel “Length” Myers any day of the week.

    Does anyone here have Kobe Bryant’s NBA Courtside for N64? Chick did the commentary for that game. It’s one of the main reasons I bought it.

    I would buy a Lakers Chick Hearn Microphone jersey in an instant.


  31. 32- Yup, I’m hoping the Lakers promote Spiro to TV within the next couple of seasons. I think its great that he is learning to call the game on radio.
    Announcers who start on radio don’t develop the annoying habit of saying “Watch this” (ESPN). Their job is to describe the action.
    Spiro’s learning and
    Chick was the master.


  32. New post up, actually breaking basketball stuff down. Man, the offseason can be long…..


  33. Sedale Threatt wasn’t lefthanded..

    The best thing about Chick was that he was ours, and he called the games for the best team in the world-at least that’s how I remember it from when I was a kid! How about, “look out Hollywood Park” when folks were heading to the exits, or “who left a door open” when somebody (more than likely WIlt) would clank a free throw.

    I have a Lakers yearbook from the year Wilt tore up his knee signed by both Wilt and Chick. They had propped WIlt up in the foyer at the Forum, and all he was supposed to do was pass out photos, but I ran to the spot and he signed my book. Then it was up to Chick’s nest, where he signed it for me also. I’ve sold a lot of my collectibles from my childhood, but never that one. My Dad was never an athlete or even a big sports fan as a kid, but he became one thanks to Chick and my love for the Lakers. He’s gone now, but thanks Dad…